TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic and an advocate for repealing the federal sports betting ban and allowing states to regulate gambling on professional sports, issued the following statement today about the increase in illegal gambling centering on the Superbowl this weekend. Senator Van Drew noted that with the changing conditions of the economy, the economic troubles of Atlantic City’s casino industry, and the fact that sports wagering is legal in Delaware, New Jersey needs to step up efforts to push for a repeal of the federal ban:
“With another Superbowl Sunday approaching, there are certain annual traditions which have become a sure-bet.
“Families will congregate around the TV, consuming more hot wings and nachos in one evening than they probably have in the previous year. Auto manufacturers, breweries, and cola companies will pump millions of dollars into marketing ads to compete for our business. And underground, illegal sports-betting rings will thrive as book-makers funnel their profits into other, more dangerous criminal enterprises.
“Rather than sit back and watch the same pattern of illegal gambling take place, we need to urge Congress to repeal the federal ban on sports betting, and give states the authority to regulate and monitor this gambling activity.
“In 1993, Congress outlawed sports wagering with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. At the time, the goal was to protect the integrity of sports, rather than allow those who could profit off of sporting events to be able to influence the outcome of games. However, rather than protect sports from outside interference, the federal ban pushed sports gambling underground, making it a magnet for even more criminal activity.
“At the time that the bill was approved, only four states were exempted: Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana. Presently, only Nevada has sports betting, but as states continue to look for new ways to fund operations during the current national economic downturn, there’s no guarantee that the other exempted states won’t establish sports betting mechanisms within their borders.
“For New Jersey, legal sports betting in Delaware would siphon economic activity away from the State’s already-endangered gaming resorts in Atlantic City, and cost us millions in tourism dollars. At a time when our casinos are feeling the heat from the national recession, legal sports betting in Delaware could be a New Jersey casino-killer.
“However, with the repeal of the federal ban, legal sports betting could be an effective stimulus tool to spark economic activity in all states throughout the nation. In New Jersey, it would mean more money spent at restaurants, hotels, and other businesses associated with the casino industry.
“Brining sports betting into the light of day would give us a better opportunity to regulate it, and enforce strict non-interference laws. Sports gambling should only be reserved for professional sports which are overseen by national commissioners and regulatory boards.
“We know that the proceeds from illegal sports betting fund loan-sharking operations, drug dealers, money laundering and organized crime. Legitimized, the proceeds from sports betting could bank-roll PAAD (Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Aged and Disabled), senior transport programs throughout New Jersey, and economic development courtesy of CRDA (Casino Reinvestment Development Authority).
“With a new President in the White House, and a new Congress committed to economic stimulus for the states, I am hopeful that we can overturn the federal sports betting ban, and give states an important tool in their stimulus toolboxes. I urge my fellow New Jerseyans to contact their Congressional representatives, and ask them to push for a repeal of the short-sighted ban on sports betting which has done more harm than good in the 16 years since it’s been enacted.”